It’s well known that reading aloud to children is important. In fact, reading aloud to students has been found to be the single most important activity for reading success. (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000).
Reading aloud some great benefits like:
- engaging students in rich text
- modeling effective reading (fluency, inflection, expression)
- creating bridges to more complex text
- introducing students to new authors and series
- introducing students to new genres, topics, and text structures
- creating a positive classroom culture around reading
So how do you pick the perfect book for your students so they can start reaping those benefits?
1. Give students a voice and a choice.
When deciding on a book to pick for your read aloud, ask your students! Your students know what they are interested in and what they’d like to listen to. They also like to feel heard. If your students feel like they have a choice, they will be more likely to actively listen to the story and engage in conversations about the text.
You can do this by letting your students offer ideas and choices or you can pick 3-5 books and do a class vote.
2. Make it relevant and representative.
Students are exposed to more information and data than ever before. They are more connected to others through the use of technology. You want to make sure we are picking books and texts that feel relevant and representative to their lives. You can do this by:
- finding out what topics interest your students and choose books with those topics or themes
- picking books that have a wide variety of characters represented (as main and supporting characters)
- picking books that lead to discussions
- finding books that make your students motivated to read books with similar topics and themes
- picking books your students can see themselves in and ones they can learn from
3. Pick rich stories with complex text.
It has been shown that students can understand far more complex text when read aloud than they can handle on their own. When you read aloud complex text, you can provide scaffolding to your students through teaching essential background knowledge, defining difficult vocabulary, modeling think alouds, and more.
Complex texts not only are more engaging to listen to, but they also provide a stronger base for discussions. Complex text also help build background knowledge that students can then take with them to other texts.
4. Pick a wide variety of genres and formats.
Not every read aloud needs to be a chapter book. While I loved using mainly chapter books for reading aloud, you can also try things like:
- news articles
- short stories
- picture books
- comic strips
Don’t be afraid to shake it up and try something new!
5. Pick books or texts that relate to each other.
Strong connections can be made when you read books with similar themes, topics, or characters. Students can work to build their background knowledge when they can connect it to texts they’ve previously read. It’s also an amazing feeling when you see a child reach for the next book in the series or another book by the same author!
6. Pick a book and start reading!
There are so many great books and texts to choose from when selecting a read aloud for your classroom. If you follow the five steps listed above, you’ll begin building your students’ comprehension skills, background knowledge, and love of reading at the same time.
It can feel overwhelming to find books that meet your criteria and the needs of your students. So, to save you time and effort, I’ve created chapter book read aloud lists for kindergarten through 5th grade.
Each list has pages of books separated by genre, topic, or theme.
You can print out the list for easy reference or download and save it to your device. The books have clickable links to Amazon in case you want to purchase a copy online.
Each grade has books for:
- fiction (general fiction books that might not fit squarely into another category)
- historical fiction
- realistic fiction
- science fiction
- beginning of the year
- holidays and seasons
- family and community
If you are interested in receiving the chapter book lists, simply click here or on any of the pictures in this post.